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VOL. 126 | NO. 189 | Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chisholm-Burns Named UTHSC Pharm School Dean

By Aisling Maki

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Dr. Marie Chisholm-Burns has been named dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, making her the first African-American appointed to the position in the college’s 113-year history and only the second African-American to be named a dean in UTHSC history.


“When I learned about the position opening, I thought, ‘Wow, UT is a great, great place,” Chisholm-Burns said. “I thought it was a place that I could see myself. It feels right.”

Chisholm-Burns will step into her new role as head of the college in the spring semester of the 2011-2012 academic year, replacing outgoing dean Dick Gourley, who will move to the Knoxville campus to head research projects.

“As we looked at replacing our longstanding and successful dean, Dick Gourley, we were looking for someone who had the ability, potential and track record to take us from a top 20 to a top 10 college of pharmacy,” said UTHSC chancellor Dr. Steve Schwab of the college, which ranks No. 16 out of 126 colleges of pharmacy in the country.

Chisholm-Burns will leave her current role as a professor and head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy.

A nationally known investigator and educator, she built her reputation with expertise in improving health outcomes by novel methods of medication adherence and health care access.

In her new role, she will lead the UT College of Pharmacy statewide, including campus locations in Memphis and Knoxville and clinical training sites throughout Tennessee.

“I really want to make a difference in people’s lives – in patient care, in the lives of the alumni, the lives of the students, and in our scholarship – and bettering humankind and the wellbeing of people,” she said. “That’s my biggest thing. I like to be part of a place that makes a big difference, and I want to build that with the people in Tennessee.”

Chisholm-Burns received her bachelor’s and pharmacy degrees at the University of Georgia, and a master’s of public health at Emory University.

She served as professor of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, and as professor of medicine at Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta. While in Georgia, she founded, implemented and managed the statewide Medication Access Program.

She was then recruited to the University of Arizona in Tucson as professor and head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science where she also was named a professor of pharmaceutical science in the College of Pharmacy, professor of surgery in the College of Medicine and professor in the College of Public Health.

During her tenure as department head, Chisholm-Burns presided over a three-fold increase in principal investigator grant funding and a six-fold increase in grant and contract funding, helping the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science become one of the foremost Pharmacy Practice departments in the nation in the area of research.

“She really brings to us not only great educational skills, but great research skills,” Schwab said.

Her numerous awards include the Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the Daniel B. Smith Practice Excellence Award from the American Pharmacists Association, and the Award of Excellence from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Her scholarly work includes more than 240 publications and approximately $8 million in external funding as principal investigator from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health and several foundations.

Chisholm-Burns’ UTHSC appointment comes about a month after the college unveiled its state-of-the-art, 183,000-square-foot College of Pharmacy building. The college was previously housed in six buildings on the sprawling, urban campus on Madison Avenue.

“I’m very happy to be in that new building,” Chisholm-Burns said. “It’s going to change the environment. People being housed together certainly helps to foster relationships. However, it’s really the people under that roof that makes the place what it is, and that’s what I’m more excited about.”

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